A few weeks ago, I responded to an evite for a freezer meal swap. Never heard of this concept before, maybe because I’m Asian and we didn’t do casseroles or freezer meals growing up. But it seemed interesting and even possibly fun, so I responded “yes.” Lo and behold, seven other ladies responded “yes,” so I spent a day last week gathering ingredients, prepping ingredients, and finally cooking enough food to feed eight families.
What recipe can be doubled, tripled, or even multiplied eight times, is easy to make, and freezes well? Chili and pasta sauce was all I could think of. So I made three humongous pots of chili, roughly following my favorite Flatlander Chili recipe, but soon gave up after it was clear I couldn’t follow a recipe while using three different sized pots and an unmeasured amount of beans and ground beef. Chili isn’t that hard to make so I decided to just wing it instead.
After spending the day buying ingredients, prepping ingredients and cooking, I have to say, it was not fun. It was a chore. I think in the future, I will make my meals fresh and the day of. No more of this freezer meal stuff. Cooking things fresh isn’t that hard and doesn’t take that much time.
In hindsight, I should have taken a picture of all the ingredients so you could see the mess that took over the kitchen counters, but I didn’t think of it at the time. I just wanted to get it done and over with. But I did use about 7 pounds of ground beef, 3 pounds of kidney beans, 2 pounds of black beans, 3 onions, 1 bunch of celery, 3 green bell peppers, 3 red bell peppers, 5 or 6 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes, 6 15oz cans of diced tomatoes, 3 28oz cans of tomato sauce, and various herbs and spices.
I would say that making a huge batch of food to be frozen is great for situations like when you’re pregnant and not planning on doing a lot of kitchen time once the baby is first born. I did spend a week last April making all sorts of frozen meals, frozen burritos, cookies, muffins, etc, and it was time very well spent. Of course, I was on maternity leave, not working and had nothing better to do.
But now? Eh. Would probably not do this again. I can’t look at chili anymore. Hubby says its the most of one type of food he’s ever seen me cook. These pictures don’t do it justice. These are mega-sized containers this chili is occupying. I had to divide it into ziploc bags and freeze them flat.
But first the freezer needs had to be cleaned and organized to make room for these babies. I also went back out to the store to buy boxes of spaghetti noodles because the instructions were if you were bringing a sauce or stew, provide the rice or pasta. Its kind of ironic because I think the idea behind this swap was to save time, but it was way more expensive and time-consuming than I thought it would be. I think I spent about $100 or more on this thing (beef is expensive!), which is much more than I normally spend on a week’s worth of groceries, maybe even two weeks.
If I ever do something like this again, I’d probably do something easier and faster, like pasta sauce with veggies. Over half of the meals received were pasta with spaghetti sauce (albeit in different forms, ie casseroles, etc), which is super easy, fast and cheap to make.